Graeme Speaks Up for Angus Sector
Ahead of a crunch UK Cabinet trade meeting today, the SNP warned the Tory government against “ploughing ahead with its blatant betrayal” of Scotland’s farmers.
As key government ministers went to discuss details of a proposed post-Brexit trade deal with Australia, the SNP’s Shadow DEFRA spokesperson, Deirdre Brock MP, said the impact of the deal on Scotland’s farming and crofting communities could be “catastrophic”.
The proposed deal could see tariff-free access granted to Australian farmers – plans that the President of the National Farmers Union Scotland, Martin Kennedy, has said Scottish farmers will feel “seriously betrayed” by. And NFU President, Minette Batters, warned that “the complete removal of tariffs on all their exports to the UK… would make life unbearable for small British family farms.”
It has been reported that the UK Government’s Environment Secretary as well as Michael Gove strongly disagree with International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Brexit Minister Lord Frost over tariff-free access. When challenged to ditch the plans by Ian Blackford at Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson failed to give a straight answer and refused to recognise the potential damage.
The Scottish Government’s newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Mairi Gougeon, has now written to Ms Truss, arguing that “a trade deal that liberalises tariffs for Australian farmers, to put it bluntly, will put UK farmers out of business”. She also suggested imposing quotas to control imports of lamb and beef, which must be “duly maintained and not eroded over time”.
Expressing concerns about how the deal could affect famers in Angus, Graeme commented:
The UK Government’s plans as they stand – which even key members of said government reportedly oppose – would have disastrous consequences for farmers here in Angus and across Scotland, surely pushing many out of business altogether.
Mairi Gougeon is absolutely right in speaking up for our farmers and calling for mitigations at the very least.
With our fishing sector still suffering from terrible Brexit decisions, Boris Johnson seems intent on making it one betrayal after another.
The UK Government should ditch tariff-free proposals – not inflect yet more damage on rural Scotland by recklessly ploughing ahead with very bad deals.